Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Rural Blog: Agricultural scientists link global warming to human activity

The Rural Blog: Agricultural scientists link global warming to hum...: "Three allied agricultural-science groups, with a total of more than 10,000 members, say the Earth is warming, and partly because of human activity.  ...In other words, they believe in anthropogenic climate change.

The American Society of Agronomy, the Crop Science Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America said “A comprehensive body of scientific evidence indicates beyond reasonable doubt that global climate change is now occurring,” and “Increases in ambient temperatures and changes in related processes are directly linked to rising anthropogenic greenhouse-gas concentrations in the atmosphere.”

The groups warn that climate change could have big impacts on agriculture and “ecosystem services” such as pollination, erosion control and natural pest management. "In fact, the groups say, changes in temperature have already begun to affect crops, water availability, and pests in some areas," the Washington newsletter Agri-Pulse reports."

The Rural Blog had an interesting post about the various agricultural scientists who are observing the climate changes that are affecting agriculture, whether it be by changes in pests, water or temperature.  Another point in the blog brought home the message about the central role of humans through time.

Dr. Erle Ellis, an American ecologist,  recognizes that humans are part of the ecology, and we are now in an age of humans as driving forces in a new geological era, called the Anthropocene Era.   Ellis studies managed landscapes, especially in China.

The classical view of ecology looks at humans as distinct from the natural world;  the ecology of a place results in a disturbed degraded ecosystem, not a proper ecosystem when humans are put into it.
Ellis says this is a fallacy. because a lot of places are disturbed by humans - even in the past - and the land has been disturbed almost everywhere in the planet.

The Gulf Islands have been shaped by First Nations and early settlers, as well as logging in the early and mid 20th century, and development to this very day.  Invasive species have taken a strong foothold, farms are nestled into the valleys that once were thick with trees.  Waves from the ferries buffet the shorelines several times a day.  Cellphone towers, fire suppression practices, etc. are signs of human habitation.

In the past forty years development has grown in the Gulf Islands and the impact of mankind has grown along with it, despite the establishment of a local land use planning government called The Islands Trust.  The mandate of the Islands Trust, to "preserve and protect", has emphasized ecological protection in the hopes of preserving and protecting the fragile and fractured ecology of the place.  Many have argued that the model being forced on the human population by Islands Trust is irrational - people are part of the ecology, the protected spaces are not true and pure ecosystems.

Dr. Ellis says everything around us has been modified - and nature is created by us, and is to be nurtured by us.

It would seem that the ecologists that have been guiding the Trust have a classical view of ecology, not one that recognizes the ongoing role of humans in shaping their landscapes.  Instead, there is a grudging acceptance that people live here and must be dealt with, but must also do their part in preserving the ecology here.  It could be argued that this narrow classical view should be balanced with an acceptance of ecological studies that accept the role of humans in shaping their environment.

We are part of the ecology, something most residents of the Gulf Islands recognize. Everything we do has an impact.  Even trying to manage the ecology for the better is really a "best guess" approach since there are many factors involved, most outside of our control.
 As Ellis says, nature is to be nurtured by us, it is changed by us and is created by us.  Perhaps the Islands Trust should listen to the perspectives of those who believe that people are part of the ecology and do have a say in the way their ecology is shaped.  Now these people have science to back them up.


  1. We must have to be aware for the environment. If we don't give a serious thought on the global worming issue then it will be really very dangerous for the mankind.

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